Timing: Directly following Fallen Angel: Reborn #1, which takes place between "Time Bomb" and "The Girl in Question."
REVIEW: The issue was good. Not as stunning as the first chapter, but still highly enjoyable. There is way more dialogue, and we also get a glimpse at some of the supporting characters of Fallen Angel, which I was really looking forward to.
First, as a Fallen Angel fan (this won't bother those who haven't read the previous volumes), I'm confused as to why Jubal is alive. He was the vessel for Moloch, and seemed to be burned to a crisp when Jude dispatched of the demon. I don't know the reasoning behind bringing the character back, and I trust that we'll find out why, but it seems like a strange decision, especially since he went from betraying his entire city to a monster last arc to trading insulting quips with Liandra in this issue. I would think she'd be trying to kill him instead of talking to him with only minor hostility. That, I don't get.
The plot really does develop a lot in this issue. Jude, the most interesting character in Fallen Angel (except, perhaps, for Asia Minor, who also appears in the issue), gets a lot of page time in this issue. Illyria compares him to Wesley, which is a great connection for fans of both the show and this comic. Illyria does a lot of that in the issue; she's new to Bete Noire, so her internal narration continues to make this highly readable for those unfamiliar to the series. She remains the main focus, and we even see a bit of the struggle in her head during this transitive state of her life. She's not totally removed from her God-self yet, but she's also promised Wesley to co-exist... subtly, Peter David hints that she has been influenced by Wesley and her time spent in LA.
But one thing about Illyria in this issue... she doesn't seem as organic as she did in the first installment. She seemed 100% in character for me in the first issue, but there are a few slight flubs in this one that got my mouth a-frownin' and my eyebrow a-raisin'. There's a line where Illyria says, "Let me... unh... guess... you displayed... free will..." Now, first let me clear it up. And yes, typed out like that, it does sound as if it was said during sex. But what strikes me about this is the "Let me guess." I just can't picture Illyria saying this. Too modern, too passive. And she also quotes her future self by saying that she "will make a trophy of her (the Fallen Angel's) spine." That is one of Illyria's most popular lines from the show. Was this repeated for the effect? I guess? But it just leaves me feeling strange. Illyria has way too many ways to describe violence in her twisted head than to double-dip.
Those issues aside, the book is solid. A fight between Illyria and Liandra (yup, it's as awesome as you'd expect) takes up a lot of page space, and the rest is devoted to Jude and Liandra "helping" Illyria find the icons she needs in order to restore her full power. Peter David shows a lot of restraint by letting out the details we need to know, when we need to know them. He keeps us guessing until the end with certain things (such as, why in the world would they help Illyria) and manages to stay true to his own characters while giving Illyria the page time a story like this calls for.
So the second issue was good. Hope the third picks it back up to very good/great again.
Art: Again, J. K. Woodward's new style needs to be given props. Between this issue and the previous one, it's the best of Woodward's work that I've seen, hands down. He gives the book a gothic, horror-ish look when they visit a cemetery, and also manages to nail the more epic moments like the fight between Illyria and Liandra. Major, major points for the great artwork. I do have one quibble, though, and I wasn't sure if I should put this in the writing or art sections, but there is a pretty major flub on Page 14. The first caption of the first panel on the page says "The rain has ceased, giving me a better view." Well, in the art... the rain hasn't ceased. Not on that panel, not on the next, and not for the entire rest of the issue. It's pouring out! It would definitely be a good idea to fix that for the TPB, because it's a strange moment that is easily amended.
Covers: J. K. Woodward's interiors again prove to be better than his cover images, which is definitely rare in comics. I definitely like his cover for this issue way better than his first cover, but in effort to recreate Illyria's odd posture, her face has been painted in a way that makes it seem as if her neck has been broken. Other than that detail, the cover is a very good one, showing Illyria and Liandra in action mode. Woodward also provides an incentive cover that features the same image of Illyria behind Liandra. They both seem ready to attack each other. I wasn't able to get my hands on this cover, so I can't talk much about it because all I have of it is a thumbnail, but from what I can see, I like it. Nick Runge also provides a cover for the book, and it's great. It's a close-up on Liandra's face, her eyes all electric-like, with Illyria, her face all shadowy-like, in front of her. Me gusta.
Characters We Know: Illyria.